Andrew Demirjian on Interactive Architectural Installation, SK3000

The inspiration for our artwork SK3000, which is on view at Locust Projects until May 4th, started on a trip to Cairo, when my collaborator Dahlia Elsayed and I were going to see her family. We read about these Ottoman-era structures called sabil kuttabs, they really captured our imagination. They were these two-story buildings with a community fountain on the bottom and a school on top. We were able to see several of them during our trip, they are very intricately decorated buildings that were seen as a site to quench intellectual and physical thirst.

Months later, when we saw Locust Projects had an open call for new artworks, we proposed a piece called SK3000 that reinterprets the traditional architectural form and function of a sabil kuttab for the future, in the context of privatization of water sources, democratic access to clean water and as a learning space that resists education for productivity, profit or politics.

Once we heard the news that we received the commission, we started to think deeply about how we could extend conceptions of knowledge exchange beyond conventional ideas of ‘education’ for the school section on the top floor. We wanted to create a space where what we learn from touch, sound, and smell is just as important as the alphabet. So, we created these plush rugs that would be on all the walls and the floors with a symbolic system at different pile heights that was like a tactile language. The symbolic communication extended to the graphics and color scheme of the walls – there are no words in this school.

We wanted to extend this idea of knowledge exchange to imagine a time when we’ve decided to listen to all life forms instead of ignore them, to learn from all types of beings, not just humans. So, we thought the soundtrack should express a sonic world of communication shared through a non-linguistic dialog of pulses. In the center of the upstairs interior is a four-speaker ziggurat sculpture that is like a future antenna, a receiver picking up these signals from other life forms.

Taken as a whole, we imagine SK3000 as a gift structure from our ancestors for an indeterminate future, as a potential pathway out of the limits of current thinking to imagine new ways of being. We will be giving an artist talk at Locust Projects at 297 NE 67th St, Miami, FL 33138 on Saturday, April 6th from 3 – 5 pm, come by and say hi.

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Andrew Demirjian

Andrew Demirjian builds linguistic, sonic, and visual environments that disrupt habituated ways of reading, hearing, and seeing. Andrew's work has been supported by the Smithsonian, the MIT Open Doc Lab, MacDowell, Nokia Bell Labs, Artslink, Rhizome and exhibited widely in the US and internationally.